The crowds came to him. People lined the banks of the Jordan, swiping at the flies, shading their eyes from the glare of the sun and straining to hear every word that came from the man of God.
John the Baptist was his name, and he was different from the typical white collar priest. Clothed with camel hair, dining on locusts, living in the desertâa very enigmatic man! But clearly anointed by God, which was the drawcard for his growing throngs of followers.
A greater teacher
But word came one day of another man, a great teacher, a speaker of truths never before heard. Slowly the crowds began to dissipate, drifting away from John. In ones and twos, small clusters of people scampered away as more news sprinkled in about the exploits of the great teacher.
The religious leaders of the day, the Pharisees, saw this man as a danger, a wildcard, unpredictable and totally unreadable. They tried to undermine him, worried about the clout he had with the people and were angry that the people crowded to him and not to them.
I must become less
John the Baptist had reason enough to be jealous too, but when his disciples asked him about the great teacher, he had a very different reaction:
The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom's voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater, I must become less.
Unlike the Pharisees who were jealous of Jesus when he came, seeing him as a threat to their prestige and power, John recognised that Jesus was the one all focus should be on.
Rather than trying to distract people to himself, he compared himself to the friend of the groom, whose joy was found in bringing honour and attention to the man of the hour.
He wished to be made even smaller if it would help Jesus to be seen all the more.
Doing God's will
John was submitted to the will of God and to the purpose of glorifying him. I have to ask myself, am I also willing to submit to the providence of God, even if it means my role decreases that God's glory might increase?
When you read through the gospels it is hard not to pick up on how often Jesus refers to not doing his will but the will of his Father. You will often come across verses that have Jesus saying similar things to the following:
For I have come down from Heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.
Jesus walked the earth in perfect obedience to his Father, even to the point of dying an ugly, painful death on a cross! He was a perfect man who lived a perfect life that provides a perfect example of how we are to live.
So it follows that I too should be doing the will of God. Which leads me to ask; 'Am I doing my will or the will of the one who sent me to this earth at this time?'
Also, 'how do I know what is my will and what is God's will?' The simplest way I have thought of to discern the difference is to ask 'Is what I am doing right now for my glory or for the glory of God?'
John the Baptist is an example of someone who was living for the glory of Godâwhen the crowds went away from him he was not jealous or bitter but rather overflowing with joy, because the people were going to the greatest teacher of all.
Unlike the Pharisees, who lived for the praise and acclaim of men, he lived for the praise of God.
Thomas Devenish lives in Hobart, Tasmania. He works as a motion designer and enjoys the diverse experiences life has to offer, from wake-boarding to curling up with a good book on a rainy day.
Thomas Devenish's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/thomas-devenish.html